As Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue stood next to Donald Trump in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon, he remembered his grandfather as the head of a corporate entity that bills itself as America’s largest Hispanic food company. The Spanish immigrant has something in common with Trump, Unanue said.

.Evan Vucci / AP

“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder, and that’s what my grandfather did,” the executive said. “He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so we have an incredible builder, and we pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”

But what was supposed to be celebrative comments marking Trump’s signing of an executive order that promised to boost access to educational and economic opportunities for Hispanic Americans instead sparked a protest firestorm targeting Unanue and Goya that resulted in widespread calls for boycott of the iconic brand.

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As excerpts of Unanue’s remarks circulated on social media on Thursday, Latinos and longtime backers of Goya’s food blasted Trump’s praise by Goya CEO, highlighting the inflammatory rhetoric and divisive policies of the president directed at minority groups and immigrants. By early Friday, “Goya” was already a top-trend word on Facebook, along with the hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya as a number of public figures, including Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) including former presidential candidate Julián Castro denounced Unanue — a Spanish-American third-generation — for supporting Trump.

“Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,’ ” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, sharing a video of Unanue speaking. Castro encouraged Americans to “think twice” before buying items from Goya.

Goya Foods “has been a staple of so many Latino households for generations,” he tweeted. “Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain.”

Unanue justified himself during a Friday morning appearance on Fox News, labeling the boycott as “suppression of speech.” He also questioned why his past support of former President Barack Obama was unchallenged, but Thursday’s remarks about Trump caused such fast condemnation.

“You’re allowed to talk good or to praise one president, but you’re not allowed — when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and educational prosperity and you make a positive comment, all of a sudden that’s not acceptable,” he said. “So I’m not apologizing. … Especially if you’re called by the president of the United States, you’re going to say: ‘No, I’m sorry. I’m busy, no thank you.’ I didn’t say that to the Obamas, and I didn’t say that to President Trump.”

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